Huawei Nova Plus review: Cameras and photography

Let’s talk about the cameras featured on the Huawei Nova Plus. The Nova Plus features a rear-facing 16Mp snapper, up from the 12Mp camera offered on the standard Huawei Nova. That’s not all either, as the Nova Plus also features Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS for short), which helps capture sharper photos. But how does it perform in real life? We’ve taken a selection of photos to analyse (click for full-res).

Let’s take a look at the above photo of St. Pancras Hotel in London. While the photo looked fairly impressive on the smartphone itself, it was a different story when looking at it again on Photoshop on a Mac. While it looks fairly decent at surface level with a good amount of detail and decent lighting for a cloudy day in London, zooming in to 100% (1:1 pixels) on Photoshop reveals a lack of fine detail, possibly due to aggressive noise cancellation. It’s not a huge deal, but we wouldn’t crop photos taken on the Huawei Nova Plus.

What the camera does do well is take photos quickly – most cars in the photo were moving when the photo was taken, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. General colour reproduction is good too, as you can make out the different shades of orange/red brick used to build the hotel, even those on the same section of wall.  

Macro photography is also fairly decent for a mid-range smartphone, as can be seen in the above photo. Tapping on the screen gets the camera to quickly focus on the subject of the photo, even when extremely close to the phone. In the case of the above photo, the Nova Plus easily grabbed the focus of the closest leaf, allowing us to clearly see the finer details. While the focus could’ve been slightly improved, we feel this is more of a reflection of our photography skills, rather than that of the smartphone.

On the flip side, the Huawei Nova Plus features the same 8Mp front-facing camera as the Nova. The front-facing camera is good for taking selfies and performs well in low-light conditions, but it won’t light up dark conditions – for those, users have the option of using the 5.5in display as a forward-facing flash.

It’s also worth mentioning video capabilities, as we’re not so sure that the OIS stretches from photography to videography. Why? We recorded a small video clip in the fairly standard [email protected] (it goes up to [email protected]) and walked a few steps – when watching it back, despite the video being fairly clear and decent quality, we still noticed visible shakiness from each step we took. When compared to the software-enabled OIS of the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s wins hands down.

Huawei Nova Plus review: Software

The Huawei Nova Plus comes packing Android 6.0 Marshmallow complete with Huawei’s own Emotion UI (or EMUI for short) offering Huawei’s own spin on the Android software. For those that don’t already know, EMUI is about as far from stock Android as one can come, with almost every element of the Android interface being redesigned or at least tweaked for Huawei devices.

Although this may be slightly controversial, we love EMUI – it looks good, and offers functionality not available on standard Android devices, like tapping the screen to take a screenshot, and being able to view your notifications in a timeline-esque view. Yes, it may take some time to get used to, but we feel that the learning curve is worth it.

But what about Android Nougat? Android’s latest software is starting to ship with smartphones, but what about the Nova Plus? We’re not quite sure yet, but we doubt it – even Huawei’s flagship P9 doesn’t look like it’ll get the update, so it’s not looking too good for the mid-range Nova series.  

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017

Huawei Nova Plus: Specs

  • 5.5in (1920x1080) IPS display
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0.1
  • 2GHz Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 506
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage, expandable by microSD
  • 16Mp main camera with OIS, dual LED flash
  • 8Mp front-facing camera
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 4G LTE
  • Nano?SIM
  • GPS
  • 3340mAh battery
  • 151.8x75.7x7.3mm
  • 160g
  • 5.5in (1920x1080) IPS display
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0.1
  • 2GHz Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 506
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage, expandable by microSD
  • 16Mp main camera with OIS, dual LED flash
  • 8Mp front-facing camera
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 4G LTE
  • Nano?SIM
  • GPS
  • 3340mAh battery
  • 151.8x75.7x7.3mm
  • 160g

OUR VERDICT

While the Huawei Nova Plus certainly looks the part with a premium design and a bright, crisp display, the internals let it down. Despite featuring an improved camera with OIS, the photos produced by the smartphone are barely improved when compared to the Nova. However, we could look past the camera if it wasn’t for the sub-par CPU and GPU, which produce fairly disappointing results when compared to other mid-range Android smartphones. While the Nova Plus isn’t a terrible mid-range smartphone, there are better options on the market.


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